June media round up

What I read in June 2021

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The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

Informative in a defacto, kind of spicy/sharp way. I appreciated the upfront context about language/terminology/labels differ a lot based on who you're talking to.

Princess Jellyfish (vol.1) by Akiko Higashimura

Feels super shoujo right now but I'm sure we're going to get to something deeper later on. The gals are so weird but I appreciate them. I hope that they get to keep it weird as the series goes on (as in, they don't just become princess-fied).

Blue Period vol. 2 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

I'm getting 2nd-hand art school education through this book! The part where he tells his mom about art school (and his observations about the mom) made me cryyyyyyyyyyyy! I really like the introspection (and sometimes intensity?) that all of these characters have, very relatable. Nice to see a character have their own a-ha moments and developing emotional maturity.

Realized that both Princess Jellyfish and Blue Period have "boy/male" characters dressing up in "girl/female' clothing.

Today's music post: 1200 Years Ago featuring Erkan Oğur by Berke Can Ozcan.

May media round up

What I read/played in May 2021

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Yakuza: Like a Dragon by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (2021 PC release)

Since it's the first RPG style game of the Yakuza franchise, I did find that it takes longer to get through the plot compared to say, playing easy-mode in the action battle system. I found that I had to "level" up a lot more before feeling confident to take on some of these boss battles. It requires more planning/strategy overall, since bosses/enemies/party members each have their unique weaknesses. Otherwise same flavour of plot! I enjoyed it! I get really offended whenever the gross pervy enemies do perv moves on the lady characters in my party :(, so I try to destroy them first...

Collage of sketches of various characters from the Yakuza 7 series.

Kasuga is really stupid but in a different way from Kiryu. Definitely more feelsy, and stronger EYELASH game. Himbo energy is extremely strong!! Zhao is a sensitive boy but so powerful chop chop chop. I love how Eri uses office stationery as weapons. I can't believe Han Joon-gi doesn't have a karaoke song; for a while I'd call him "fast boy" because he gets so many turns. Adachi is such a dad type (his weird in-street/public flexing), but his Machine Gun Kiss is REALLY good. I laughed SO HARD at Kasuga's rapping backup for Like A Butterfly. I really like when Yapi says "Ya-pi"! I appreciated Saeko's resilience and vulnerability. I hope Nanba gets his hair under control...

My heart still belongs to Majima Goro, bunchan, and the chickens. Sketch of Majima Goro from Yakuza 0, holding a Bunchan java sparrow plush

Decolonize Palestine and Visualizing Palestine

I found these resources helpful in building my understanding of a lot of the underlying context for what's happening in Palestine.

Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida (vol. 2-23 end)

The world building/logic is so different from IRL that you just want to keep reading on to understand how it all works. I think I understand 75% of what happened, but was lost when they start talking about time differences. I'm never quite sure what is/isn't reality, though I think that's also how the characters felt too. I 10000% ship Shin/Noi and Caiman/Nikaido, and now I want to eat gyoza!!

The Arab of the Future (vol. 1) by Riad Sattouf

I'm not sure how this came onto my radar; might have been a random recommendation through my library's overdrive/libby (what I use to read most of my stuff these days). Because of this, I wasn't sure what to expect! I was able to learn a bit more about a specific sliver of arab culture (or at least, see some side of it). There were points where I felt that the dual storytelling (narrative in panels vs. dialogue in panels) took me longer to mentally parse than I expected (as in, I noticed I was having trouble understanding). I would attribute this to the fact that I am not well versed in the political and religious context where the story takes place though! I'm pretty sad about the dog...

Today's music post: Moulan Shakur by Khalab & M'berra Ensemble from the album, M'berra.

April media round up

What I read in April 2021

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The Baddest Bitch in the Room by Sophia Chang

This came up on my library's overdrive as a recommendation. I was intrigued by the cover: an east asian person with legs spread wide, looking pretty boss and confident. I read the description and didn't expect to know that a Korean-Canadian woman would have any affiliated with the hip hop scene and Wu Tang Clan. This book reminds me that there's a place for all of us, to tell our stories. If we feel under-represented in this world, then we should try to stop making ourselves small and quiet, otherwise we're going to be reinforcing what we dislike most.

Delinquent Housewife 2-4 by Nemu Yoko

I'm not sure what it is, but all the characters in this series have great appeal to me. They all charming in their own ways. The artwork feels very breezy and accessible. The series ends at 4, and I'm glad that it ended in the way it did; without it becoming too awkward or contentious!!

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Sweet and wholesome. There is a looseness/bendiness to the art and a lot white space and decompressed panelling that I enjoyed. Good feelings!!!!

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Gorgeous story with beautiful flowing artwork and paneling. Also love the author notes about intentions and fashion/design inspiration that was included at the end. Attention to detail combined with balance aesthetic between negative and positive space made for an enjoyable read! I think the allusions and imageries from mixed cultures/folklore was weaved into the narrative well, in a way that wasn't too abstract nor too explicit, just right! The author talks about how comics are a combination of both text and visual languages, which I completely agree with.

I Don't Want to Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux

Michael makes a lot of references to other media (reality tv shows, musicians/artists, etc.) that I'm not familiar with, but I greatly appreciated his vulnerability and candid reflections, especially with regards to his parents. Reading the book makes me think about the student loan situation as some extension of the carceral system...

Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi (Signature series) 1

I think this is a thick book compilation of the original volume 1-2. I have to admit that I'm probably not the target audience for this book, as the pervy teenage boy main character is completely repulsive to me, and I don't particularly enjoy how these potentially better-off-without-him female characters can't live without him (harem-ish?).

Today's music post: Sorry by Danny Elfman. I wasn't expected that he was releasing albums on this platform! This song reminds me of his stuff from Oingo Boingo x Orchestrated scores.

March media round-up

What I consumed in March 2021.

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Heaven's Design Team vol 1-2 with Hebi zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako

A comic about the design department for the animals that exist in the world. It's really funny/cute/informative. I like the idea of a how different personalities end up designing animals to their taste hahaha. I like how proud Pluto is of her "cute" designs even though everyone else thinks they're super messed up. I enjoyed seeing all the strange hybrid animals they came up with. I am pleased to gather more animal facts. Also all the quips about working as a designer with unreasonable clients hit me hard, too real.

Dorohedoro vol. 1 by Q. Hayashida

A world where sorcerers are make monsters out of humans, so some humans are now fighting sorcerers...This comic's setting is casually hyper-violent, but somehow not in a way that I find myself needing to turn away from the page. It seems like there's a good balance of cool and powerful characters of all genders too. They've set up enough intrigue in vol.1 to makes me want to see what's going to happen! The fantastical-nature of the world also means there's a lot of unexpected things happening.

Ran and the Gray World vol.1 by Aki Irie

A comic about a young girl, living with her family, who all seem to have magical powers of some sort. A lot of folks were talking up the artist/author's drawings so I tried out the book. I feel as though the story itself was somewhat too ambiguous and meandering. People appeared in a very random fashion. I feel "maybe" about continuing this; the mom's plot actually seems more interesting than the main character's plot. Something about the main character's naivety really triggers my stranger danger senses.

A Man and his Cat vol. 1-3 by Umi Sakurai

Extremely wholesome stories about a suit-wearing old man and his cat. Three of my greatest weaknesses. Just missing glasses. Mix of short stories and strips. As the volumes go on, you dig deeper into both the man and the cat's past.

My Brother's Husband vol. 1-2 omnibus [end] by Gengoroh Tagame

A solid story that makes you sad and hopeful at the same time about LGBTQA+ relationships in Japan.

Yakuza 6 (2021 PC release)

THE END OF THE KIRYU SAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHH!! I liked a lot of the in-between antagonists in this game like Someya and Han Joon-gi (not so much the end game ones). The letter killed me because I wasn't expecting the recipient. I feel like Akimiya's face wasn't as good as it was in previous games? Or entering weird uncanny valley not fully-lip-synched territory. The battles/game play on easy mode were exceptionally easy, so I blew through the main plot in ~20 hours. Kiryu smiles a lot more and it is moderately unsettling. Well now I can start plotting my Yakuza zine...

Blue Period vol. 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

A story about changing life/career/hobby aspirations towards art. The main character is a student who mainly focuses on academics in high school, but stumbles upon some sense of authenticity when he paints a scene from within his memory. The author has this wiggly way of drawing certain characters. Somehow the artwork feels very intense at times! A glimpse into art school and academics in Japan.

Love Love Hill is having a free shipping promo for any orders over $20 for our self-published comics and zines! A bunch of us are moving, so any support to decrease our box weight is greatly appreciated~

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Some life updates:

  • HWAnimation snow scene feels like i finished it 10 years ago.
  • HWA vol.1 was literallly finished a year ago (ish).
  • I did my taxes for 2020.
  • I'm back at work full time and it has taken up all my energy.
  • I got to try out Cosmo Air Light paper! Unexpected find at the University of Waterloo store...someone there must be a fountain pen nerd.
  • Got a handful of fountain pen ink samples from Wonder Pens and a new Pilot Kakuno in pink/white colourway (which is now my Pinkey pen and filled with pink ink)
  • Watching at least 2 friends descend deeper into fountain pen/ink fever, hahaha

Today's music post: Domestic Music For Skeptical Dogs by Gavsborg

February 2021 media round-up

What I played/read/watched in February 2021.

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I ended up reading a lot of manga because I discovered how much the library ebook/overdrive system had. The nice thing about manga for me, is that it reads a lot quicker than just text-based books. As usual, vague spoilers may be found below.

Yakuza 5

The theme of this game was very heavily focused on dreams (the aspirational type, not sleeping ones). I really wasn't sure how the baseball man's plot would link up to it all, but it was satisfying to see it come together. I laughed at random naked workouts...I am in disbelief at the secret marriage. I wonder if they ever made that fountain pen a limited edition item that fans could buy!?

Part 1: I think there's a new contender for biggest himbo in the series: Watase?! I'm much more into Kiryu's uniform. I am very bad at racing but laughed at the very obvious eurobeat music that comes with the minigame.

Part 2: Saejima's crop cut YEA! I laughed really hard at his fist pumping and injections during karaoke. Gross inmate sticking fingers into wound NO! Baba's volatile feelings...! I was very close to gameover-ing during this snowmobile scene. I can't believe the anti-social old snow man has clothing in Saejima's size and style by accident HAHA. I got trapped running away from bears.

Part 3: Haruka had some pretty hilarious ponytail physics going on, and her L-shaped bum wiggle dance move makes me laugh. I'm very bad at the dance battles because it requires another level of button coordination that I don't have. I got really into the idol part because I didn't want to lose to those other idols. I was really DNW about Park at the beginning but of course she makes me cry later...!!!!

Part 4: I recognize Aikawa Show from Odoru Daisousasen / Isseifubi SEPIA hahaha. I also unknowingly gameover-ed at because it was in the middle of a cutscene but then suddenly I had to push a very specific button to do a very specific thing that was critical to the plot...!

I thought that the plot twist at the very end was kind of unnecessary! I wanted an ended with old men cheering at an idol concert instead. The game tried (?) to be all stealth with secret characters, but I could tell who they were from their voices and overall appearance, haha. I feel like I can write autobio reaction zine about this series, but only after i play more substories and Y6 later in March...

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

This book reads like an extended meandering rant, but I don't mean that in a bad way. I think it's more like if you had a meal with a friend you haven't seen in years, and the book is like the script of that what that friend told you. Much of it is relatable if you come from a background that overlaps with her. She makes a reference to Trinh T. Minh-Ha's "Speaking Nearby" which I didn't know about before, but found it to be a good articulation of how to still be a creative and include other experiences that you don't personally have.

Yuzu the Pet Vet vol. 1 by Mingo Ito

The comics were serialized in Nakayoshi and then compiled into a volume. I had a feeling that I would cry really bad since it's about a vet clinic, but I was also convinced that since it's targeted towards young girls maybe it would be more happy-go-lucky, but I was wrong. I was hit with pets dying of old age, cancer, dementia, etc. which ultimately made me cry, but they're all good tears. The stories aren't super deep, but they are indeed wholesome. A lot of cute animals too!

Behind the Scenes!! vol.1 by Bisco Hatori

The last time I touched any of Bisco Hatori's work was Ouran Host Club eons ago, so I thought I'd try this series out. There's a lot going on in the comic panels...so much freaking out. I find it hard to sympathize/empathize with these extremely low confidence characters with a lot of skill/talent. The setting of the series is interesting (university/college prop/setting/staging/art club for movies and films) but I wasn't sure where the series was going; specifically I don't feel "hooked" after reading one volume!

Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey vol.1 by Akiko Higashimura

I've heard great things about Akiko Higashimura's work (Princess Jellyfish, etc.). I even watched a Manben episode (hosted by Naoki Urasawa) with her in it, but haven't read any of her work until now. This is autobio about her artistic journey, starting from when she was in highschool, trying to apply to art colleges/universities. Her overconfidence was really surprising...but ultimately in reflection I can tell that she really valued her strict art teacher's lessons. I definitely want to continue reading this, to see her relationship and feelings evolve.

Crocodile Baron vol.1 by Takuya Okada

Like a lot of other food-related manga, there is always a trope where they eat a thing and then make an exaggerated comparison to something else. I was a bit weirded out about how the crocodile is very crocodile looking while a lot of the other mammals seem to be more...human/manga-eye-d? In particular the rabbit companion is a very unappealing leech-type character. The art is well done but I don't think there is much substance otherwise to keep me going on another volume.

The Delinquent Housewife vol.1 by Nemu Yoko

Since I read The Way of the Househusband, I figured I could read the reverse situation, where a woman who sucks at housekeeping, becomes a housewife, and tries to hide her delinquent / bosozoku background from her soon-to-be-in-law family. I like how the little sister's nefarious acts are being countered by the seemingly innocent grandpa. I'll probably continue this series!

Ninth Floor (2015)

Mina Shum directed documentary film about the Sir George Williams event in Quebec, 1969, where black students and their allies occupied the 9th floor of a Sir George Williams university (now Concordia) building because of non-action from the university administration about racism charges against a white university professor, Perry Anderson. According to wiki it was the largest occupation in Canadian history! It's always embarrassing (and telling) how nobody ever teaches this stuff in Canada education system. I am also ignorant (hence why I've been trying to learn and listen more) so ultimately I'm glad to have watched this. Artistically, the shots were all quite interesting and purposefully chosen.

Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! vol.1-2 by Yuu Toyota

The series was recommended by Kendra (though I suppose it might've been the live action tv show) so I decided to check it out at the library. It's pretty wholesome, cute, and guilty pleasure BL manga fluff hahahaha so no complaints!! I think Kurosawa's hidden train of thought is very similar to Austin's hahaha. The long-game persistent pining is strong with that one!

Witch Hat Atelier vol.7 by Kamome Shirahama

Ouuu more of Quifrey's background is revealed...! That part where he pulls down the hat...!!!!!! SO SNEAKY!!!

Today's music post: Sickboy by 카코포니(cacophony). I like the bond-esque drama in this song!